From your child’s very first day at St Gerard’s we lay the foundation for a love of learning that will remain with them throughout the course of their school life, providing a bedrock for future success in public examinations. Small class sizes, experienced staff, individual learning journeys and a high degree of interaction with parents combine to ensure your child receives individual attention in a safe, enjoyable, caring and creative environment. Small numbers will enable your child to make close friendships and develop good relationships with his/her teachers. This enables him/her to grow in confidence and self-expression and be challenged by active engagement in learning. Learning regularly takes places outside of the classroom as well, with trips and visits to local venues such as Penrhyn Castle near Bangor, the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, and the municipal library.
A typical day at the junior school
English is the primary means of communication within the school. Thus it permeates all curricular areas. Within the discrete subject area, skills are taught, developed and consolidated through reading, writing and speaking and listening tasks in response to a range of challenging texts. Spelling rules are taught each week and are reinforced through weekly testing. The following is an overview of how the skills are expected to progress across Years 3/4 and 5 and 6.
Working on the Primary National Strategy objectives for Year 3/4, the focus is on perfecting basic spelling, grammar and punctuation rules whilst developing reading and comprehension abilities. Comprehension exercises will draw on texts from a variety of genres and pupils will practise inferring from the text. Narrative writing will be taught in stages with an emphasis on planning and increasing description.
Pupils are expected to read throughout both the term and holidays and to read aloud to an adult three times a week. A reading response book will provide a record of the child’s progress and an opportunity to share reading with teachers and parents.
In Years 5 and 6 pupils will consolidate the skills from the previous year. Pupils will be taught to increase the depth of their answers and to supply examples. Creative writing will feature a wider range of vocabulary and pupils will employ a variety of descriptive techniques. Inference and deduction play a significant role in comprehension skills and pupils will be encouraged to look beneath the obvious textual content in order to develop full and detailed answers to questions relating to the text.
Children are taught the importance of the four rules of number and are expected to know their times tables by the end of Year 4. There is support offered where needed and extension work for high flyers. Parents are encouraged to practise tables with children on a regular basis. The importance of numeracy is related to everyday life and other subjects.
The scheme of work follows the QCA guidelines and meets its requirements for the delivery of science teaching to achieve success at the end of each Key Stage. Assessment opportunities provide a ‘baseline’ record. This not only helps with differentiated planning and delivery but also aids the children themselves when target-setting and self-assessing, together with their parents, to help develop understanding as the science topics progress. Particular emphasis in Years 4 and 5 will focus on investigative techniques and procedures in science, across a broad range of topics.
Homework may be research-based and thus encourages access to reference material, via the internet, encyclopaedia or the library. Newspapers and television news may also assist from time to time. Worksheets and presentations may also be completed, along with leaflets and posters.
Pupils are assessed both formally and informally with feedback and targets being set in response to written and spoken tasks. Baseline tests are sat in literacy and numeracy including mental maths and spelling at the start of each term. This data enables staff to closely monitor pupils and help pinpoint targets to achieve greater progress. Individual education plans may be drawn up and parental involvement is very much welcomed at St Gerard’s.
Weekly tests in spelling and mental maths are the norm. Formal examinations take place in the autumn and summer terms and will include reading and writing tasks.
Each of our pupils will have an independent set of targets in the various subject areas. These are reviewed with their teachers on a regular basis. In addition to these, we set a whole-school target each term. Through this we have noticed a significant improvement in the areas targeted and hope to find ways of making this even more successful in the future.